Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech was a Spanish painter, sculptor, engraver, set designer and writer of the 20th century. An artist associated with surrealism, he is one of the most important figures in 20th century art, representing the archetype of the spectacular contemporary multifaceted artist.
He develops his creative activity in various fields through the most diverse cultural formulas: painting, written media, performing arts, cinema, or public appearances in the press, radio, cinema, advertising, television, etc.
Master of the most refined pictorial technique, especially drawing, along with various aesthetic languages – from impressionism, cubism, purism or late ultraism with Dadaist edges to the most radical surrealism, hyperrealism, pop-art or art optical—, will absorb every influence that is useful to build its own and personal language, halfway between technical tradition and thematic avant-garde.
His paranoid-critical method is his main contribution to the surrealist movement and to the history of art as a new creative model with which Dalí’s theories acquire theoretical entity – thanks to the successive interpretations that the Empordà artist made of his readings of Dalí’s work. Sigmund Freud—and practice, applying it as a revealing liquid of images that can be represented plastically through multiple images, anamorphisms, relational mirages, irrational and heterogeneous symbolic images, pseudohallucinations, childhood memories, atavisms, obsessive ideas, etc., and recreating a polyphonic method capable of critically relating any visual or sensitive experience. With his method, Dalí makes paranoid delirium a whole mode of expression of an art that introduces us to the concrete irrationality that inhabits every creative process, constructing not only his works, but also his own character. as an artist.
In Dalí, the relationship between his work and his personal history becomes evident. Much of the most significant biographical facts for the artist are implicitly or explicitly present in the content of his work and are the explanation of his complex and contradictory personality.
In 1910, at the age of 6, he was enrolled by his father in the Hispano-French school of the Immaculate Conception of Figueres, where he learned French, his future language of culture.
Dalí’s first contact with Impressionism occurred in 1916, when he spent some time on the outskirts of Figueres, specifically at the Molí de la Torre estate, property of the Pichot family (intellectuals and artists), where he was the collection of the painter Ramón Pichot.
In 1919 he participated for the first time in a group exhibition in the halls of the Societat de Concerts, and with a group of friends from the institute founded the magazine Studium, in which he published his first writings. A year later he moved to Madrid to study at the School of Fine Arts.
In 1922 he won his first prize at the Concurs-exposició d’obres d’art originals d’students, held at the Galeries Dalmau (Barcelona). This same year he attended the School of Painting, Sculpture and Engraving in Madrid (Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando), and lived in the Student Residence, where he became friends with prominent personalities such as Luis Buñuel, Federico García Lorca, Pedro Garfias , Eugenio Montes, or Pepín Bello.
However, a year later he was expelled from the Academy for his rebellious and revolutionary character, accused of leading a protest. It would be in 1927 when his surrealist period began, after having traveled to the Netherlands and France, meeting Flemish painters and Picasso. In Paris itself, in 1929, through Joan Miró, he came into contact with a group of surrealists headed by André Bretón.
At the beginning of the 1930s, Dalí found his own style, with a particular language and a form of expression that would be his companions for life. You could say that it produces a mix of avant-garde and tradition.
A figure of notable importance in the artist’s life is Gala (Helena Diakonoff), with whom he entered into a civil marriage in 1934, although a few years before he had met and posed for the artist. Gala, since then, was painted numerous times by Dalí until the end of his days.
After the outbreak of the Spanish civil war, Dalí and Gala spent the years between New York and Paris, until in 1948 the couple settled in New York for 8 consecutive years. His creative activity was prolific during this New York period, as he designed numerous ballets, worked with Hitchcock and Walt Disney, illustrated several literary editions (Shakespeare, Cervantes, Michel de Montaigne), etc.
Once permanently settled in Spain, Dalí publicly declared that he was deeply Catholic and a supporter of the Franco regime. From then on, Dalí became a symbol artistic for the dictatorship, meeting with Franco in 1956 and receiving, in 1964, the Grand Cross of Isabel la Católica, the highest Spanish distinction granted by the Franco Government.
Coinciding with his return to Spain in 1949, he began his mystical-nuclear stage, where he dealt with religious themes as well as others related to scientific advances of the time, showing interest in the progress related to nuclear fusion and fission. . He is clearly influenced by the dropping of the atomic bomb.
In the 60s he delved into movements such as pop-art and optical art, intensifying during the 70s his knowledge of holography and optical science, so that he arrived at a work in which he offered the viewer prominence thanks to his mastery of three-dimensional images.
The last 15 years of his life are marked by national and international recognition for all of his production. For example, the Dalí Theater-Museum begins, the appointment of an academic in France, a major retrospective at the Georges Pompidou and the Tate Gallery in London, the inauguration of the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg (Florida, USA), the appointment of the Marquis of Púbol, or the creation of the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation in Figueres.
In 1982 his wife Gala died, from then until his last day, Dalí’s life would go into decline. His last painting was painted in 1983, titled The Tail of the Swallow, in addition to a large anthological exhibition being held in Madrid, Barcelona and Figueres, titled “400 works by Salvador Dalí”.
(Source: Biographies of the Royal Academy of History; Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation).